Another show-stopping event has come and gone as we close the book on Ultra 2016. It was three-days of fast beats, loud drops, beautiful people, and so many lights. It was a big year for throwback jams, and while it wasn’t the pop star guest free-for-all of 2015, it still packed plenty of surprises. Here’s Billboard Dance’s breakdown of the final hours.
People are tired but energy is still high as partiers promise to make the most of Ultra’s last day. It’s full-speed ahead at the UMF Radio stage where TWRK already drop face-melting trap bangers. All across the grounds, partiers camp on blankets and soak up the sun from grassy hills, bolstering their spirits with cold beers and heavy beats.
The spirit of the ’90s is alive and adorable at the Worldwide stage where Australia’s Wave Racer brings an awesome overload. His effervescent future house vibes are like a sonic Red Bull, the perfect shot of energy to get the day started. The screen flashes images of flying cars, rainbow-colored dolphins, and melting CDs. It’s the coolest screen saver we’ve ever seen.
Peaches sings about her vagina during one of the wildest Ultra performances of the weekend. The punk-electronica goddess gathers a small crowd but has the stage presence of a woman performing for thousands. She jumps off stage and into the crowd, takes a break to hit a fan’s one-hitter, and doesn’t leave the stage until everyone is sticky with sweat and champagne.
The crowd is treated to a world premiere of Galantis’ new single “No Money.” It’s a bubbly, infectious anthem sure to be a staple of the forthcoming summer festival scene, and the highlight of a perfect hour of pop-house hits.
A little rain helps beat the heat as the people of Ultra dance from stage to stage. Girls in sequined bras and lycra shorts open their arms to the sky, reveling in and welcoming the refreshing drops.
“If you a winner like me, put your hands up,” DJ Khaled yells to the Main Stage hoards. The Miami DJ and ruling king of Snapchat rocked the crowd with hit hit “All I Do is Win” during Carnage’s set. Fellow Miami rap superstar Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Rae Sremmurd, and iLoveMakonnen were also there to bring a touch of thug royalty to the evening. Marshmello made a cameo as well.
It’s almost impossible to work through the crowd at the ASOT stage as thousands huddle to hear deadmau5’s much-hyped headlining set. He talked a lot of game about trance but keeps true to his usual techno vibe – except for the part where he rocked out on Motorhead’s speed metal classic “Ace of Spades.”
Things are anything but mellow at the Worldwide stage. Buzzing mystery producer Marshmello has been burning up the stage from behind his puffy, smiling mask. It’s not hard to see why Jack U’s Skrillex and Diplo count themselves among his fans.
The beat is deep and persistent at the Resistance Stage where Guy Gerber welcomes the cool darkness of night. The eyes of the Arcadia Spectacular spider-shaped stage glow red through the smoke of freezing kryo.
Angry boos erupts at the Live Stage, not because people aren’t enjoying Rabbit in the Moon’s theatrical performance. On the contrary, they’re completely sucked in by the Florida-based band’s non-stop energy. It’s just that the giant screen on stage is flashing images and video clips of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. There have been a few fans spotted carrying “fuck Trump” signs throughout the weekend.
Megan James’ high-pitched siren call pierces through the smoky air. Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring has a sensual edge that can’t be beat. It’s always mesmerizing to watch producer Corin Roddick bang on his DIY light-up drum cocoons.
Wriggling through the throng of thousands at the Main Stage is like traveling through time. It’s been years since drum’n’bass band Pendulum graced the Miami grounds. Younger fans know the group by its dubstep alter ego Knife Party. It’s an extra special treat to watch the live group bang out fast-paced, hair-raising beats on electric guitars and live drums, and there’s plenty of dubstep breakdowns to keep Knife Party fans satisfied.
It’s another surprise deadmau5 appearance as the masked producer joins Pendulum on stage for a live rendition of “Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff.” We almost forgot the band’s singer Rob Swire was the singer on the 2008 hit. It sounds even better when it’s played by a live band.
The barrage of fireworks comes to an end and the final bits of confetti are trampled under foot as the 50,000-plus crowd begrudgingly says goodbye to another Ultra 2016. Some of them no doubt are already planning their return, and so is UMF. The Main Stage video screens announce the dates of next year’s party, Friday through Sunday, March 24 to March 26. We’re already looking forward to it.